Cyprus appoints judges to probe economic crash

Protesters hold a Cypriot flag during a rally, against the plan to seize a part of depositors' bank savings in Cyprus, outside the European Union's offices in Athens, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. The Cypriot government sought Tuesday to shield small savers from a plan that is intended to raise euro 5.8 billion ($7.5 billion) toward a financial bailout by seizing money from bank accounts. The plan, which is part of a larger bailout package being negotiated with other European countries, has been met with fury in Cyprus and has sent jitters across financial markets. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Thanassis Stavrakis

NICOSIA, Cyprus Cyprus' president has appointed a panel of three former supreme court judges to investigate how the country ended up nearly bankrupt.

President Nicos Anastasiades said Tuesday that ordinary citizens who are shouldering the burden of "actions and omissions" by officials want to see those responsible punished.

Anastasiades urged the judges to kick off their probe by investigating his family's business dealings amid an accusation in an opposition newspaper that a company that is said to be co-owned by one of his relatives took money out of Cyprus' now defunct second-largest lender, Laiki, days before the country agreed to a 16 billion euros ($20.5 billion) international rescue.

Under the terms of the bailout with its euro area partners and the International Monetary Fund, big depositors in Laiki are facing big losses.